Advocate legally and morally obligated to give “No Objection” if his clients wish to engage a new Advocate of their choice: Manipur HC [Read Judgment]

Advocate legally and morally obligated to give “No Objection” if his clients wish to engage a new Advocate of their choice: Manipur HC [Read Judgment]


It would be a professional requirement consistent with the dignity of the profession that he would return the brief to the client and it is time to hold that such obligation is not only a legal duty but a moral imperative, the Court said.


Manipur High Court has held that it is not only a legal duty but also a moral imperative of an Advocate to return the brief to the client if they wish to engage a new Advocate of their choice. Justice Kh. Nobin Singh also said that a client is expected to be fair and reasonable to his Advocate and ought to give proper instructions accordingly.

An Advocate in Manipur refused to give ‘No objection’ to his clients, who wished to engage a new lawyer for the purpose of withdrawing a Writ petition filed through him. His justification was that, the engagement of another lawyer for the purpose of their withdrawal from being the petitioners would tantamount to making tacit aspersions against him inasmuch as people are likely to falsely take that he has held up their instructions thereby causing prejudice to his integrity.

The dispute between the Advocate and his client reached the High Court which observed in its order: “It is unfortunate that this court is called upon to decide an issue which has arisen out of the relation between the applicants and their counsel, and has nothing to do with the merit of the case. Before bringing the issue to this court, the same could have been resolved amicably by them outside the court.”

The Court observed that, without terminating the appointment of their earlier counsel, they had moved an application for deleting their names from the array of parties in the writ petition through another Advocate which is unfair and unreasonable on the part of the applicants. The Court further said: “The only reason as to why he declined to give “No Objection” is that the engagement of another lawyer for the purpose of their withdrawal from being the petitioners would tantamount to making tacit aspersions against him inasmuch as people are likely to falsely take that he has held up their instructions thereby causing prejudice to his integrity. In other words, all that he replied in his letter dated 21-04-2016 is that if the applicants wished to withdraw from the case and had instructed him for that purpose, he could have done that happily. But without doing that, the applicants had already engaged another Advocate before his appointment is determined in accordance with law and therefore, their action is unfair and unreasonable. To that extent, the stand of Shri Ng. Kumar, Advocate appears to be correct and proper. There is no material on record to show that the applicants had ever approached him with the instruction that they wished to withdraw from the case and an appropriate action in respect thereof be taken by him. On the contrary, the applicants had engaged another Advocate through whom they moved the application …praying for deleting their names from the array of parties in the writ petition. Even the new Advocate engaged by the applicants ought not to have accepted the instructions of the applicants for moving the said application in view of the provisions of the Bar Council of India Rules.”

The court also added that, the moment an Advocate is engaged, a client is expected to be fair and reasonable to him and ought to give proper instructions accordingly.

In the instant case, however the court observed: “But in any case and for whatever reasons, the applicants have expressed their view that they don’t want Shri Ng. Kumar, Advocate to continue as their counsel and that a new Advocate be engaged in his place and since the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the said R.D. Saxena’s Case (supra) has categorically observed that for whatever reason, if a client does not want to continue the engagement of a particular Advocate, it would be a professional requirement consistent with the dignity of the profession that he would return the brief to the client and it is time to hold that such obligation is not only a legal duty but a moral imperative, this court is of the view that this application is liable to be allowed. In view of the above observations of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, it is the duty of Shri Ng. Kumar, Advocate to give “No Objection” so that the applicants could engage a new Advocate of their choice. If Shri Ng. Kumar, Advocate is of the view that the action of the applicants being unfair and unreasonable, has caused prejudice to his professional right and privilege as a counsel, it is open to him to seek appropriate relief and redress his grievance from an appropriate forum.”

Read the Judgment here.